The beats goes on for UD as the Flyers dropped Friday’s series opener to George Mason without a struggle, 7-1.
Dayton – The beat goes on for the UD Flyers (10-22, 1-5 in A-10), prompting one observer at Friday’s game at Spectrum Stadium to state the sad but true – the numbers don’t lie.
Hosting George Mason (15-20, 4-3 in A-10) this weekend, the Flyers were ranked ninth in Atlantic 10 standings, hitting .241 as a team and posting a 6.65 collective earned run average.
Mason, coming off a mid-week win over Big Ten power Maryland, was hitting marginally higher at .248, but better than two runs better in earned run average (4.42). The numbers, in this case, didn’t lie.
The Patriots jumped on Flyers starter Austin Cline (2-4, 6.35 ERA) for one run in the first, four in the third, one each in the fifth and sixth, and for all intents…it was over.
George Mason starter Tyler Zombro, ranked in the top five of A-10 pitchers (3-0, 0.39 ERA) did the rest. Zombro limited the Flyers to just five hits over seven innings, striking out 4, walking 1, and for most of his seven innings made it look as leisurely as a game of catch with battery mate Tyler Nelin.
The Flyers did hit some balls hard – Mitch Coughlin, Brad Burkhart, Robbie Doring, and Tate Hagan – but when you’re going bad, you’re really going bad. Almost without exception those line drives were caught in the outfield without as much as moving a step.
To add to matters, coach Tony Vittorio was missing from the bench, suspended Friday for an ejection at Miami on Wednesday. Assistants Ryne Romick and Ryan Cypret handled the duties, but they could not change the numbers or the pattern of Flyer baseball over the first 32 games.
Cypret talked about the frustrating state of the union after the game.
“I guess relative to this afternoon the numbers don’t lie,” he said. “And to a point it is true. We have a decent on-base clip, and we have one of the highest walk rates in the A-10. But you’re not going to win games that way. You’re gonna’ win games by putting up decent numbers with batting average and earned runs.
“So it does characterize what happened today,” he added. “They had a good guy on the mound and we did barrel some balls up, but against a good pitcher (like Zombro) you have to be better than we were today. Out of the gate we were behind and gave them too many free bases – eight in the first three innings – and they got off to a six-run lead just like that.”
Just like that.
Austin Cline, who seems to have as many bad days as good ones, never found his ‘good’ on Friday. Struggling with command, he pitched from behind and he left too many fastballs up in the zone. Even Mason, a .248-hitting team, feasted on such luxury, stringing line drives and extra base hits together, rarely giving Cline, a sophomore from Ben Logan High School, a chance to pitch stress-free.
His line: 6 innings, 7 runs, 12 hits, 5 strikeouts and 1 walk.
There were wild pitches, passed balls, and a hit batter among Clines 98 pitches and six innings. The defense was loose in the third, with a costly error at third base that allowed an unearned run and the 4-run inning to continue.
“In the first three innings it was a little bit of everybody not taking care of the baseball, including the battery,” added Cypret. “Like I say, too many free bases.
“When Austin’s good he’s getting ahead and working down. Today he was working from behind and a lot of balls were up. Too many pitches that weren’t competitive. He’s better than what he showed today, but on Friday when they’ve got one of the best in the A-10 throwing, we’ve all got to be better, too.”
Mason won it with 7 runs, 17 hits off Cline and reliever Tyler Jones, and the Patriots committed no errors.
Dayton lost it with 1 run (in the ninth), 7 hits, and 1 error.
Due to concerns about pending weather on Sunday, the series will wrap up with a scheduled double-header on Saturday starting at noon. Tyler Henry is listed as the Flyers’ pitcher in game one – Mason Kutruff gets the duty in the nightcap.
* Flyer baseball is sponsored, in part, by the generous support of Aldebaran Capital, LLC